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Resolving disputes creatively

Custody dispute questions pregnant mother's travel rights

Though custody disputes are not uncommon among divorced parents and are sometimes settled relatively quickly, there are occasions when these disputes turn into major prolonged legal battles that eat into the lives of both the parents and their child. In either situation, though, it is important to understand that the most prioritized concern that any New York court will keep in mind while deciding a child custody dispute is what is in the best interests of the child.

This consideration often prompts a court to award legal or physical custody of a child to one parent over another. Certain factors including stability of a home, history of abuse and overall parenting ability may be taken into consideration when making a child custody determination. Occasionally, even if the physical custody has already been awarded to a parent, subsequent family developments may lead to a child custody modification order.

At times, certain complex situations can develop in these custody disputes. A recent example of such a dispute can be seen by the case between an Olympian athlete Bode Miller and his child's mother. The mother, who was an ex-marine, left California, where she had met the athlete, for New York once she became pregnant. Their relationship had ended even before the athlete was aware of her pregnancy.

Strangely enough, once the athlete sought custody, a New York court apparently reprimanded the mother for having moved the child beyond the reach of the father while she was pregnant and shifted the dispute to a California court. The athlete was subsequently awarded custody, until an appellate court returned the case to New York and custody was awarded to the child's mother. A short-term agreement between the parents, however, gives them shared custody.

This incident raises the question if the mother of a child has the legal right to move without the father's approval before the child is born. Complex legal situations like this may be difficult to shift through and understand. Seeking assistance from an experienced legal professional can help clarify the issue and give the parent a strong voice in what could be a fierce battle.

Source: Babble, "Bode Miller's Custody Case: What It Means for Pregnant Women Everywhere," Alice Gomstyn, Feb 17, 2014

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